History of Garlic as food
Garlic got its name from the Old English word “garleac” which means “spear leek" .
The place of origin of this bulbous vegetable is considered to be Central Asia and is believed to have been grown there over 6000 years ago. They have also been used as a staple in the Mediterranean region and been used frequently for seasoning dishes in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Egypt had started using garlic in its cuisine by 3000 BC and around the same time it had already become an integral part of the present Indian and Pakistani Cuisine. It is from these countries that the use of garlic spread to China. From here through trade it reached the French, Portuguese and Spanish coasts and consequently the New World.
In the initial days Garlic was shunned as food mostly because of its pungent smell. In Ancient India though it was extolled and revered for its medicinal properties it was not ingested by the upper classes because of its strong odor and monks were also not allowed to take them because of it’s the fact that it is an aphrodisiac. Even those who were on a fast couldn’t touch this vegetable because of the same reason. Even amongst the Buddhists and Jains and even the Chinese subcontinent garlic was almost never used as food but was used frequently as medicine to treat a number of illnesses. With time and the arrival and dominant presence of the Muslims garlic became an integral part of Indian and Asian cuisine.
Garlic received the cold shoulder in Western countries too. In the 17th century garlic was denied to women and those who wanted to court them. Almost till the beginning of the 20th century onion replaced garlic in recipes. Garlic was often referred to as Bronx vanilla, halitosis, and Italian perfume. But with immigration and the increasing popularity of ethnic cuisine garlic found its strong hold in America by the 1940’s. Today, the consumption of garlic is close to 250 million pounds in America alone.
A happy ending for the once shunned garlic, wouldn’t you say? Celebrate the good days of this heroic vegetable with these remarkable recipes that uses garlic like Spinach Garlic Pasta With Garlic Onion Sauce or Garlic Jelly.
Some Garlic Trivia
Garlic was worshiped and even used as currency in Egypt. It was belived that garlic can cure close to 22 common ailments, from lack of stamina to heart disease and tumor. While building pyramids it is believed that the Egyptians fed garlic to their slaves so that they would have increased strength.
With the Twilight series and True Blood and the hordes of vampire movies we have been exposed to we all know that it is believed that garlic repels vampires, but did you know that it was also believed that garlic could protect one against the Evil Eye and protect pregnant women and engaged maidens from jealous nymphs.
In India, garlic was used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine and it was even believed to prevent the spread of smallpox if hung out side the doors of the affected person’s house.